After giving a recent speech to a large banker group, I was approached by two area branch managers. They wanted to share that, while they currently run physically distinct brick-and-mortar branches, those roles do not fully reflect their experience.

They explained that, like me, they were alumni of in-store bank branches, and they appreciated my comments during the speech about having "in-store banking DNA" in my system.

Juniper Research predicts that by 2017, there will be a billion mobile banking customers around the world. 40% of these will still take the time to get on the phone or visit their bank’s physical branches for certain inquiries. And according to research from KPMG, more than half of global banking consumers express a real desire for combined social, personalized and “human” interactions to be integrated into a bank’s online services and mobile apps.

When farmer Isaac Tondo fell on lean times in Liberia's long rainy season, his brother in the capital sent 8,000 Liberian dollars (US$87) to his Lonestar mobile money account, ensuring his children's school fees would still be paid.

Traditionally, big banks have seen investment in digital channels as an opportunity to improve their cost base, encouraging a shift from high cost channels such as branch and telephony, into online and then mobile.